May 20 protests to demand: ‘Hands off Cuba and Venezuela’
Even as a nuclear-powered U.S. war fleet and 6,500 Marines are conducting maneuvers
in the Caribbean that threaten Cuba, Venezuela and other anti-imperialist countries
throughout the Americas, another kind of mobilization is occurring across the
On May 20, demonstrations from Austria to Australia, from Brazil to Canada,
will coincide with a march in Washington, D.C., to demand “U.S. hands
off Venezuela and Cuba”—“Manos fuera de Venezuela y Cuba.”
The situation is urgent. According to the Cuban newspaper Granma, the
scope of the U.S. military maneuvers dwarfs even the Pentagon’s naval
deployment during the October 1962 missile crisis. Similar maneuvers in the
past were used to gather information needed to launch aggression, like the “exercises”
that preceded the U.S. invasion of Grenada in 1983.
They can also be used to send a direct threat, as the Virginian-Pilot newspaper,
which is published in the heavily militarized Hampton Roads area, noted in a
March 28 article:
“Some defense analysts suggested that the unusual two-month-long deployment,
set to begin in early April, could be interpreted as a show of force by anti-American
governments in Venezuela and Cuba. ‘The presence of a U.S. carrier task
force in the Caribbean will definitely be interpreted as some sort of signal
by the governments of Cuba and Venezuela,’ said Loren Thompson of the
Lexington Institute, a pro-defense think tank in Washington. ‘If I was
sitting in the Venezuela capital looking at this American task force, the message
I would be getting is America still is not so distracted by Iraq that it is
unable to enforce its interests in the Caribbean,’ Thompson said.”
Radio Havana says this ominous show of force will be followed by yet another
maneuver in the Caribbean involving 4,000 NATO troops and lasting from May 23
to June 15.
Students, labor, Latinas mobilize
Who is answering the call to be in the streets on May 20?
New York high school students have filled two buses and are getting a third.
The New York Health and Hospital Union, 1199 SEIU, printed leaflets that were
passed out at the massive May 1 boycott demanding full rights for all immigrants
and at the April 29 march to bring the troops home from Iraq.
Cuban Americans and Bolivarian Circle activists are traveling to D.C. from
Miami. Other marchers will be converging on the capital by van from Detroit
and Atlanta, by bus from Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Richmond, Va., and
other areas, and by car and metro in Washington, D.C. They intend to say no
in person to new anti-Cuba and anti-Venezuela measures planned by the U.S. government.
May 20 is also African Liberation Day. Particularly noteworthy is the collaboration
with ALD organizers, who are sharing their stage and sound at the Malcolm X
Park gathering site with this mobilization. There will also be strong participation
of African-American organizations and leaders, including People’s Hurricane
Relief, All-African Peoples Revolutionary Party and People of African Descent
in Solidarity with Venezuela.
Actor Danny Glover, anti-war leader Cindy Sheehan and author Noam Chom sky
are all recent endorsers who have been invited to speak.
The march will begin by greeting the Cuban Interests Section and then proceed
to the quasi-governmental National Endowment for Democracy, which has heavily
funded the right-wing opposition in Venezuela, on its way to Lafayette Park
across from the White House.
On the West Coast, a march in Los Angeles will gather at the downtown Federal
Building at noon on May 20.
Audio addresses from national leaders of both Bolivarian Venezuela and Cuba
will be aired in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. Other invited speakers are
attorneys Leonard Weinglass and Jose Per tierra, Reverends Lucius Walker and
Luis Barrios, Colombian trade unionist Gerardo Cajamarca, and Elma Beatriz Rosado,
widow of slain Puerto Rican freedom fighter Filiberto Ojeda Rios.
Weinglass represents Antonio Guerre ro, one of the five Cuban anti-terrorists
held unjustly in U.S. prisons. Jose Pertierra represents the government of Venezuela
in extradition proceedings against Luis Posada Carriles, an admitted terrorist
who is wanted in Venezuela for the 1976 mid-air bombing of a Cubana airlines
flight that killed 73 people, including a young fencing team.
The struggle to Free the Cuban Five and extradite Posada will be featured at
the activity. Other themes include stopping U.S. intervention and hostile campaigns
against Venezuela, ending Washington’s economic and political war against
Cuba, allowing U.S. citizens and legal residents to travel freely to Cuba, normalizing
U.S.-Cuban relations, closing the Guantanamo torture camp and returning Guantanamo
to Cuba, and stopping all U.S. military intervention in Latin America and the
Online donations can be made at www.may20coalition.org, which also has
more information. For West Coast information, call (213) 383-9283 or (323) 936-7266.
There are downloadable Los Angeles leaflets at www.iacenterla.org.